073: The Best Authors Never Write Alone: Interview with Steven Pressfield and Shawn Coyne [Podcast]

Instant access to a wealth of information and digital tools broke down the walls of traditional publishing. The good news is anyone can write a book. This is also the bad news.

Steven Pressfield Shawn Coyne

The Internet provides the means for anyone to write, market, and launch their own book. Anyone who thinks they are a writer can self-publish a mediocre title with relative ease.

People who fool themselves into believing they’ve found a secret hack to writing success are cheating. And in the long run, cheaters never win.

You wouldn’t want a neurosurgeon who cheated off his classmates to operate on you. Nor do you want to read a book written by someone who disrespects the craft.

There are no shortcuts to becoming a writer.

This week on The Portfolio Life, Steven Pressfield, Shawn Coyne and I talk about the Resistance, what it’s like to write a New York Times bestseller, why rejection is healthy, and how we can find meaning and direction in our work as authors.

Listen in as we discuss the origin of The War of Art, why the ease of digital publishing is dangerous, and interesting aspects of the writer-editor relationship.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you are reading this via email, please click here).

You can also listen via iTunes or on Stitcher.

The priceless quality of an incredible editor

The Art of Work, is outperforming all of my previous books combined. The reason is simple. I found a great editor who helped me understand my own ideas with better clarity and context.

I’ve talked before about the key to building your tribe revolving around the concept of finding the “sweet spot”. The intersection of your passion and skill with what the market values.

While writing The Art of Work, I was passionate about the topic and skilled in the concepts. My editor helped me distill the message so it resonated with readers. We make a great team.

One of the things I found most interesting about Steven and Shawn is their authenticity with each other and their audience. They are not afraid to challenge conventional thinking and share their “secrets” with whoever will listen.

“The more we can teach each other… the better we’re going to be inspired to innovate and make better stories.” —Shawn Coyne

Show highlights

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The self-destructive nature of writers
  • Why an editor is instrumental in crafting a significant book
  • How writers self-sabotage their greatest work
  • Understanding the tension between what you want to write and what the reader values
  • Focusing on a target market and branching out from there
  • The genius behind giving away 10,000 copies of your book
  • Navigating the tension between showing up for your muse and applying proven formulas
  • Why not chasing the New York Times best-seller status is a brilliant move
  • Three simple tenants of launching an indie publisher
  • The myth of the Internet as a magic tool
  • What it means to be a “working writer”
  • Making your analytical and creative side work together
  • How genre works to manage your audience’s expectations
  • Traditional publishing vs self-publishing

Quotes and Takeaways

  • To learn your craft requires a lot of intense effort.” —Shawn Coyne
  • Tension is part of the fun.” —Shawn Coyne
  • A lot of times you don’t even know who your market is.” — Steven Pressfield
  • I always get up in the morning and grind it out every day.” —Steven Pressfield
  • You have to pay your dues.” —Steven Pressfield
  • Failure helps you hone your craft.


Bonus: Download the full transcript here.

Who is your creative partner in crime? How would an editor challenge you in your craft? Share in the comments